Embattled Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan told a Philadelphia TV station he’s “hurt” by the portrayal of a relationship he had with a former staffer with whom he settled a sexual harassment complaint.
Meehan has been criticized after a New York Times report that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint.
The Pennsylvania Republican reportedly became hostile when he learned the aide, who is much younger, did not reciprocate his feelings and learned she was involved in a relationship with another man.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Meehan admitted to saying he saw the aide as a “soul mate.”
But he denied making romantic overtures in an interview with NBC10 on Tuesday.
Watch: House Harassment Bill on Fast Track, but Maybe Moving Too Fast?
“I demonstrated that there was a caring and affection,” he said. Meehan also said a letter he sent to the staffer where he thanked God “for putting you into my life,” was mischaracterized.
“I was writing a letter to say I love the idea that you have found this new relationship and even though it hurts me that we’re going to be separated and even though I’m struggling with the idea that having you with me is something I need to always keep professional,” he said.
The married congressman said there was nothing inappropriate about the relationship.
“My own struggle with emotions is a completely different thing,” he said.
When asked about whether his feelings were appropriate, he said “how can you control feelings? What’s important is what you do with those feelings.”
The aide said through her attorney that Meehan’s comments were “a gross violation of the confidentiality agreement and non-disparagement provisions.”
Meehan has already been removed from the House Ethics Committee, which is now investigating him.
Despite the reports, Meehan is still running for re-election in Pennsylvania’s 7th District, which is being targeted by Democrats.